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Debugger for ARM Cortex-M3/M4 MCUs tout fault analysis

15 Jan 2013

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Atollic has included a fault analysis feature for the Atollic TrueSTUDIO IDE when developing C/C++ projects for ARM Cortex-M3 or Cortex-M4 MCUs. According to the company, the fault analyser functions allow developers to identify and resolve hard-to-find system faults when the CPU has been driven into a fault condition by the application software.

The fault analyser feature interprets information extracted from the Cortex-M nested vector interrupt controller (NVIC) in order to identify the reasons that caused the fault. Typically, this may include division by zero errors, accessing invalid memory locations or accessing memory locations on misaligned boundaries.

Within the debugger, after a fault has occurred, the code line where the fault happened will be displayed. The user can then view the reasons for the error condition. Faults are categorised broadly into bus, usage and memory faults. Bus faults occur when an invalid access attempt is made across the bus, either of a peripheral or memory location. Usage faults are the result of illegal instructions or other program errors. Memory errors can include attempts of access an illegal location or rule violations of the memory protection unit (MPU).

To further aid fault analysis, an exception stack frame visualisation option provides a snapshot of MCU register values at the time of the crash. By isolating the fault to an individual instruction allows the developer to reconstruct the MCU to the condition they were at the time the faulty instruction was executed.

The fault analyser feature within Atollic TrueSTUDIO's debugger claims to significantly aid embedded developers to quickly understand why the system has crashed thus improving productivity, speeding development time and quickening time to market.

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